50 years of puff


When the Manawatu Jazz Club Big Band takes the Globe Theatre stage on Sun­day af­ter­noon for its 50th Manawatu Jazz Fes­ti­val concert, a hand­ful of play­ers will be cel­e­brat­ing their own half­cen­tury mile­stone.

Among them is trum­pet player Peter Hales.

The Jazz Club marked its 50th an­niver­sary last year and join­ing its Big Band in 1967 was a re­cent ar­rival from Whangarei.

Hales al­ready had plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence, fol­low­ing an elder brother into the Whangarei Mu­nic­i­pal Sil­ver Band in 1951.

A love for the big-band sound of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller meant he slot­ted right in and for a short time even had his own Peter Hales Quar­tet.

‘‘It was dance mu­sic. In those days there’d be four of us and a drum kit squeezed into a car and off play­ing some dance some­where. There was just us and our in­stru­ments. The guitars had elec­tric pick ups, but there were no amps.’’

The pub­lic ser­vant didn’t stay in Palmer­ston North. His job had him pop­ping up, and play­ing his trum­pet, in Christchurch, Welling­ton, New Ply­mouth and Whanganui, so Hales doesn’t claim to have been a mem­ber of the Big Band for 50 years.

‘‘But I kept com­ing back and played for Queen El­iz­a­beth and the Duke of Ed­in­burgh in The Square for the royal visit in 1977.’’

From 1975 to 2008, Hales was also a mem­ber of lo­cal trad jazz band The Rose City Seven.

He still puck­ers up to the same trum­pet mouth­piece from that time, even though he has up­graded the rest of his in­stru- ment.

‘‘I can’t part with it – it’s my crutch. A trum­pet mouth­piece is like golf clubs – spe­cial to the player,’’ he said.

A mem­ber of the Sav­age Club Orches­tra and Big Band, Hales is now the Manawatu Jazz Club Big Band’s man­ager, and one of its four trum­pet play­ers.

He also plays in Theme, a duo with the Big Band’s cur­rent mu­si­cal di­rec­tor, sax­o­phon­ist Trevor Cas­tles. The pair will be play­ing in Down­town’s Flavour Bistro on Satur­day for the jazz fes­ti­val’s free Cafe Scene.

Last Fri­day evening, Hales played as the Big Band warmed up the fes­ti­val with Jazz on Your Feet at the Cossie Club.

On Sun­day af­ter­noon at the Globe, he’ll take his place in the MJC Big Swing Band lineup, along­side Neville Lau­rid­sen’s Swamp City Big Band, for the fes­ti­val’s tra­di­tional Big Band Blast – help­ing to trum­pet ar­range­ments for some of the best big­band swing mu­sic ever writ­ten.


Trum­pet player Peter Hales started play­ing for the Manawatu Jazz Club Big band 50 years ago.

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